Rich and Tina Braunthal have owned Ohana Grille, overlooking Sloan's Lake, for almost two years, but their food truck has been roaming south Denver and the suburbs for five years. Traditional Hawaiian staples are the highlight of the menu on the truck and at the restaurant, but American breakfast favorites are also served for brunch — usually with a Hawaiian twist. Ohana's tacos, for example come loaded with kalua pork, while an egg sandwich includes Spam, and waffles are made with mashed bananas in the batter.
Braunthal notes that his fresh seafood is flown in on Thursdays, so fish, lobster and shrimp are used in weekend brunch creations. The lobster and shrimp Benedict includes generous mounds of seafood, poached eggs and tomato slices served on sourdough Texas toast. That's all drowned in sriracha hollandaise and macadamia nut pesto. In addition to this menu staple, the chef says he often utilizes other seafood in Benedicts that change from week to week.
Ohana Grille's chicken and waffles rise above standard preparations, primarily because the chicken is panko-crusted, which helps it keep its crunch even when it’s doused in homemade chili-paste syrup. And the sweet, fruity note from the banana-waffle batter complements the dish's spicy, savory side.
Hawaii is famous for its slow-cooked kalua pork; Ohana Grille serves it as a dinner entree but turns the shredded pork into a hash for brunch, served atop home fries with red peppers and onions, a poached egg, pineapple salsa and a drizzle of Thai barbecue sauce.
Hawaiians combine passion fruit, orange and guava juices, and call the result POG, which goes into the eatery's rumosas. (Yes, those are rum-based mimosas.) Get bottomless POG rumosas for just $9, and servers will keep your champagne flute filled all morning. Other cocktail options include the Nightmarcher, made with Bear Creek Distillery spiced rum, Hawaiian moonshine and a variety of tropical juices, and garnished with a toasted cinnamon stick and an edible orchid, in case you need a snack while you decide on breakfast. There's a two-drink limit on the Nightmarcher; you'll know why after you finish your first one. Operating manager Wade White notes that he uses local spirits whenever possible, including Colorado-sourced bottles in the well.
Braunthal says that Spam was a big part of his life while living in Hawaii and now he incorporates it into several different dishes. He goes through cases a week, but notes that the canned ham is the only prepackaged item in his kitchen.
“I try to make the food approachable for everyone, and I make everything in the traditional Hawaiian style,” he adds.
The food certainly brings a taste of Hawaii to Edgewater, but beyond that, a seat on the patio with a mai tai in hand and a view of Sloan’s Lake is probably the closest you can get to the Hawaiian lifestyle in Denver.
Ohana Grille is located at 2045 Sheridan Boulevard and serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 303-232-0787 or visit the restaurant's website. Hot tip: The patio is very dog-friendly; White admits that he always serves canine visitors water before their human companions.
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